Former Kendrapara MP from BJD Baijayant Panda called upon Paradeep MLA Damodar Rout in Bhubaneswar Thursday, a day after Rout was expelled from BJD for alleged anti-party activities.
Panda, who was suspended from primary membership of the BJD in January this year and quit the party in May, said he met Rout to offer “moral support”.
Rout’s expulsion came a day after he alleged that “the BJD was being run by one bureaucrat and three MLAs”. He had also targeted the state government, saying it oversaw a scam of Rs 800 crore in farm loans disbursed by the cooperation department.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik called the allegations “ridiculous”.
On Rout’s expulsion, Panda told the media, “It is a sad thing that Biju Babu’s staunchest supporters, who have worked with him, are being removed from the party. The BJD, which we were proud of, used to take action against allegations of corruption. These days action is being taken against those who flag corruption. BJD was formed against violence, corruption and for women’s safety. All of it is reversed.”
When he quit the BJD, Panda had written in his resignation letter that CM Patnaik not paying respect in person upon his father’s death was “the last straw” among “many humiliations over the past four years”. Panda’s 87-year-old father Bansidhar Panda, who died on May 22 in Bhubaneswar, was an industrialist and had close ties with Patnaik’s father, former CM Biju Patnaik.
Meanwhile, the meeting between Panda and Rout and their allegations against the BJD prompted speculation about formation of a new party in Odisha. Asked about this, Panda said, “We will sit and talk again in the future.”
“It is likely that both may form a new political party that will stake claim to the ‘true’ legacy of Biju Patnaik and portray the BJD as a corrupt and unprincipled organisation,” said a BJD MP, requesting anonymity. “This will be done to cut BJD votes in coastal Odisha and benefit the BJP,” he said, adding that no one in the BJD was worried about the prospect.
“Both (Panda and Rout) will soon realise that only Biju’s son can be his legatee, and that without a strong organisation their party will have no chance,” said another senior BJD MP.
When contacted by The Indian Express, both former BJD leaders were not available to comment on the speculation about a new party.
CM Patnaik said Thursday, “Dama Babu has always been making irresponsible statements. If they wish to form a party, that is their business.”